Happy New Year!

Jan. 1, 2008
With this issue, we welcome you to another exciting year of opportunities in dentistry.

by Joe Blaes

With this issue, we welcome you to another exciting year of opportunities in dentistry. This is without a doubt the very best time to be a dentist! Be sure to read Dr. Mike Schuster’s column that begins on page 74. It will expose you to some great information on transformation!

In 2008, I am committed to raising dentistry’s awareness of oral cancer. All of my seminars now begin with a discussion of oral cancer. I have committed to an oral cancer article in every issue of DE® during 2008 to increase the awareness of the dental profession.

When was the last time you read an article, saw a TV news report, or read an Internet report on oral cancer? Did you know that the death rate for oral cancer has not decreased in the last three decades, that in 2007 there will be 34,360 new cases of oral cancer and that it will kill 7,500 people? I bet you have heard about the great success in reducing the new cases of cervical cancer to 11,000 and the deaths to 3,670. Three times as many people get oral cancer and twice as many die!

The five-year survival rate for oral cancer is only 52 percent, but when diagnosed early, it can be 80 to 90 percent. Unfortunately, only 35 percent of oral cancer is diagnosed early. Late diagnosis leads to a high death rate. There has been a nearly fivefold increase in oral cancer patients under the age of 40 with none of the traditional risk factors. Oral cancer is no longer limited to heavy smokers and drinkers over the age of 45. This trend underscores the need for a thorough cancer screening examination of all our patients and an increased awareness of this devastating disease.

Whose job is it? I think this is fairly obvious! The screening for and the discovery of oral cancer is primarily the responsibility of dentists and the dental profession. Dental practices are the first line of defense against this deadly disease. We are the envy of health professionals because we have built such a great recall system into our practices that allows us to see patients on a regular basis. It is our responsibility to screen these patients for oral cancer!

The ADA has jumped into the consumer advertising arena by promoting the dentist’s ability to help prevent oral cancer by using the OralCDx Brush Test™ to routinely screen the very common small spots that appear in our patients’ mouths. This test can determine which spots contain early precancerous cells (dysplasia) before oral cancer can even start. The tag line is “Ask your dentist about a routine test as powerful as a Pap smear or colonoscopy.” It would probably be a good idea to order a supply of OralCDx brush biopsy kits and learn how to use them because I suspect there are a lot of dentists who don’t have them in their offices.

In addition to the Brush Test, there are several visualization aids that are being marketed as an adjunct to the standard white light examination to help us find additional oral lesions to evaluate or test. These include the ViziLite® Plus from Zila Pharmaceuticals, the DK oral lesion screening instrument from Orascoptic, and the VELscope® manufactured by LED Medical.

Don’t leave oral cancer to chance. It can be diagnosed early and lives can be saved! The dental profession can make a difference. Show your patients that you care about their health. Stress early detection in your practice and unite with me to bring down the death rate from oral cancer.

Take a positive step forward on this quest of early detection of oral cancer by gathering your team together and speaking to them about oral cancer. The ADA’s materials on this subject provide great information. There is a great DVD available from the ADA through www.ada.org. It is the poignant story of two young women who are oral cancer survivors. It brings a tear to my eye every time I see it. I know it will have a great impact on your team!

Go to some of the manufacturer’s Web sites and download information for your people to see. You cannot possibly do this without the strong support and encouragement of your team.

I hope that each of you will share my passion for the eradication of oral cancer!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e-mail: [email protected]
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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